Tag Archives: History

European History 101

I’ve talked a lot about Japanese history, but I haven’t touched on European history much. Obviously this needs to be corrected. European history over the last few thousand years is a very complex subject, and there are a lot of … Continue reading

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Nuking Hurricanes

You can just imagine the scene, can’t you? An office somewhere in Washington, lit by fluorescent lights, several tired and dispirited men sitting around a table strewn with papers. On the wall, the latest satellite photos are tacked up to … Continue reading

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Guns of the Samurai

When people think about historical Japan, samurai and their swords come immediately to mind. Perhaps we have images of masterless ronin wandering the lands and getting into thrilling adventures, or maybe we envision the noble families and their loyal retainers. … Continue reading

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The Four Horsemen of the Wehrpocalypse

The Second World War has had a big effect on our collective cultural worldview. Even now, more than 70 years after it ended, a surprisingly large number of people are still obsessing over it and going over every last detail. … Continue reading

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The Katana

If there’s one thing everyone knows about Japanese history, it’s the katana. Samurai and their swords are perhaps the most iconic image of Edo-period Japan in our mass media consciousness, and they get used whenever a piece of fiction wants … Continue reading

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Japanese Castles

Ever since I arrived in Japan I was interested in Japanese castles. They look quite different to the stone fortifications my Euro-centric upbringing made me consider normal, and it took me a while to realise that it was because they … Continue reading

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The Koku System

If you’ve read anything about Shogunate-era Japan you’ve probably come across the term koku. It is mostly used to describe the wealth of an individual and measured in bales of rice. But this description significantly oversimplifies the implications of the … Continue reading

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Hydraulic Power

Here in Japan the rainy season has started, and if you live in a rural area – like yours truly – its effects are fairly obvious. What might be less obvious are the ways in which those effects have shaped … Continue reading

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